Almost-Halfway 100 Summits Update!

Almost-Halfway 100 Summits Update!

I’ve been climbing my way through the autumn, and simultaneously working on the next Hiro Hattori mystery (tentatively titled Ghost of the Bamboo Grove), and it occurred to me that I’ve been a bit remiss in my blogging updates. Whoops . . . The summit count currently stands at 43 – a respectable almost-halfway total, though the coming snow will present some challenges moving forward.

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Torikabuto and Takanosu

Torikabuto and Takanosu

Yesterday saw the addition of three more peaks to my #100Summits list, thanks to a traverse of two peaks and a gondola-assisted climb of a third in the Hakone area. While I’ll give more details about the later two climbs in the weeks to come, today I’m sharing a little about the first, which also involved research for my next Hiro Hattori mystery (the first one to involve a ghost).

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The Great Toilet Parade Mystery of 2018

The Great Toilet Parade Mystery of 2018

My Japanese skills are improving rapidly since my move to Japan, and I’ve achieved a state of relative (dis)comfort with basic functions like travel,  shopping, restaurants, and paying basic bills. In other areas, I can often “keyword spot” and intuit the portions of a conversation I don’t know, to at least achieve an acceptable result. However, it doesn’t take much to remind me that, in the immortal words of Robert Frost, I have “miles to go before I sleep” in terms of linguistic fluency. Case in point: this afternoon’s Great Toilet Parade. (Read to the end to understand the photo…)

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Mt. Tomuraushi – and Pikachu!

Mt. Tomuraushi – and Pikachu!

My third and longest climb in Hokkaido was the first on my 100 Summits quest that I almost failed to complete. But it wasn’t pain or exhaustion that almost cost me the summit. On Tomuraushi, as always, time proved my worst enemy. My guide Takuto and I began our hike at 7:40 am at the trailhead near Tomuraushi Onsen, where we’d spent the night. If you read the sign, you’ll notice the peak lies 9.2km from the trailhead – and they’re not an easy nine kilometers, either. The hike begins with a lovely walk through pristine forest. It has some

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Fear and Triumph on Mount Yotei

Fear and Triumph on Mount Yotei

Two weeks ago tonight I arrived in Hokkaido, just two days after a massive earthquake rocked Japan’s northernmost island, killing over two dozen people, knocking out power, and interrupting public transportation. I considered cancelling my trip–which I’d had planned for almost a year–but the guides at Hokkaido Nature Tours said we were good to go . . . and go we went. My first guide, nicknamed Yamabushi (the Japanese word for a mountain ascetic) met me in Sapporo and drove me to Niseko, where we arrived just in time for a couple of afternoon adventures (more on that in a later post)

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On the Road – and at the Races!

On the Road – and at the Races!

I’m sorry the blog has been more silent than usual lately – that’s changing, starting now. I’ve been quiet mostly because I’ve been climbing, and I have a ton of exciting moments to share! The #100Summits journey has taken me halfway across Japan, 1,100 kilometers north of Tokyo, to the northernmost major island, Hokkaido.

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To Hokkaido . . . In The Wake of the Quake

To Hokkaido . . . In The Wake of the Quake

I started planning the 100 Summits Project a year ago, and even then I knew the most difficult region of Japan in which to climb would be Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost major island. Most of Hokkaido lies beyond the northernmost terminus of the Shinkansen (bullet train) which ends its run at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto terminal, 1,099 kilometers from Tokyo but only at the southernmost end of Hokkaido itself. From there, it’s almost a full day’s ride by express train to the northern end of the island – and the hyakumeizan peaks are scattered across Hokkaido like a handful of dice flung down by an angry

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